Proposal may curb overtime abuse

Legislation that would crack down on The City’s spending on overtime could limit the abuse by city workers but questions still remain for employees keeping the public safe.

Sheriff’s deputies, police officers and firefighters are consistently the top overtime earners in San Francisco, but if the Board of Supervisors today passes legislation proposed by Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, the work could be spread among more employees.

But a clause in the legislation that allows employees to work overtime in “critical” positions could allow enough room for many in the public safety sector to continue earning salaries that often outpace those of the supervisors themselves. McGoldrick said he hopes departmental supervisors start training more staff in those critical areas.

“There is never a reason to have understaffing in a critical situation,” he said.

“It’s a health risk, as well; it’s a public safety risk,” Newsom said Monday. “Someone’s working de facto two jobs in a public safety position, they’re not going to be as effective.”

The legislation stipulates that no appointing officer shall permit any employee to work overtime hours that exceed, in any fiscal year, 30 percent of the numbers of hours for which the employee is regularly scheduled. In addition, employees would be limited to working no more than 80 hours in a regular work week.

In the first six months of 2008, several public-safety employees have surpassed that number already with two firefighters in the Fire Department’s Bureau of Equipment racking up more than 900 hours in six months. One firefighter, as The Examiner revealed, worked 19 straight 24-hour shifts before taking a day off.

The Controller and Director of Human Resources would be required to submit a biannual report to the Board of Supervisors on Jan. 5 and May 1 of each year listing each and every employee who has exceeded these limitations. Supervisors will also be provided with a monthly overtime report in a committee hearing, McGoldrick said.

The idea of legislating overtime comes across as a bad idea to many, including Gary Delagnes, head of The City’s police union.

“This legislation is all about how supervisors just don’t like the idea of a cop or a firefighter making more than they do,” Delagnes said.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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